Customs authorities and Trademark enforcement
Using customs and border protection authorities to prevent counterfeit goods from entering new markets and crossing borders is one of the most effective tools in a luxury brand owner’s toolbox when it comes to IP enforcement and anti-counterfeiting efforts. The process varies, but this is available in several Asia Pacific jurisdictions.
- Australia: Trademarks and other intellectual property rights (IPRs) are subject to seizure by the Australian Border Force. Any goods bearing a mark that is substantially similar to or deceptively similar to a trademark about which a notice of objection has been filed may be subject to seizure.
- Bangladesh: The commissioner of customs may demand more information from the importer or their agent if they have grounds to suspect that a trademark on imported goods is fraudulent; if this is not done, fines may be imposed.
- Cambodia: An owner of a registered trademark may ask customs officials to stop the clearance of goods that violate their rights from being imported.
- China: It is possible to record IPRs with the General Administration of Customs. When goods that appear to be infringing are found, customs will seize them and ask the owner of the intellectual property if they want to take legal action.
- Hong Kong: IPRs are not allowed to be registered with the customs office. On the other hand, infringement can be reported to the department and investigated if noticed by the owner of a registered trademark.
- Indonesia: Customs may detain goods on their own initiative or in response to an order from the head of the commercial court if there is proof of infringement. For some companies based in Indonesia, trademark recordal is an option that enables customs to alert the owner of potentially infringing goods and give permission for the owner to take additional measures, such as suspending the goods.
- Japan: Customs officers try to stop the importation of goods that violate intellectual property rights, such as trademarks. An owner of a trademark may request that specific imports be halted from customs. The owner must supply information to customs to help them distinguish genuine goods from counterfeits and to identify authorized factories and licensees in order to prevent the unintentional prohibition of parallel imports of genuine products.
- Macau, China: Customs may, as a preventative measure, seize suspected counterfeit goods at the export or import point. Anyone exhibiting a legitimate interest may exercise seizure upon request, either in advance or on the spot. A registered trademark owner may also request a customs watch through a submission.
- Myanmar: By submitting a customs notice, trademark owners can request that the import, export, or transit of goods that violate their rights be stopped. Orders for detention or suspension issued by customs are possible.
- New Zealand: Customs may receive an IPR notice. Customs will look into whether the goods violate the rights of the notice issuer if it intercepts suspected counterfeit goods for which a notice has been filed. Goods are impounded if they are discovered to be infringing.
- Pakistan: Infringing goods that are meant for import or export may be detained by customs on their own initiative or in response to a trademark owner’s application.
- Philippines: Owners of registered trademarks may register their marks with the Bureau of Customs’ Intellectual Property Unit. If a shipment is discovered to contain fake goods, the government will seize it and dispose of it.
- Singapore: IPR owners have the option to file a complaint requesting that goods suspected of being infringing be held before being exported or imported into Singapore. On their own, customs officials have the authority to hold suspected counterfeit goods. In certain cases, customs may give IPR owners access to information about the goods that are being held, including names and contact information, in order to facilitate additional enforcement action.
- Sri Lanka: If an intellectual property owner has good reason to think that the import of fake goods violates their rights, they can write to the director general of customs and ask them to halt the goods’ release.
- Taiwan, China: A trademark owner may ask the customs authorities to keep an eye out for unauthorized use of their marks by submitting an application and supporting documentation. Information about any authorized local agents, distributors, and outlets must be included in such documentation.
- Vietnam: Trademarks may be registered with the General Department of Customs’ Department of Customs Control and Supervision. In the event that the recordal is approved, customs will keep an eye out for contraband across the country. Customs will temporarily halt the clearance of the goods and notify the trademark owner so they can take appropriate action if suspected infringing goods are found.